It’s Central and Bakersfield for the coveted Central Section plaque that reads: “Division I Championship.”
Three months after losing 21-14 at home to the Drillers as a No. 1 seed in the football final, the Grizzlies marched toward another showdown with The Big Blue, only in basketball, after outscoring Liberty-Bakersfield 46-27 in the second half for an 85-66 win in the semifinals Wednesday night on their home court.
Junior guards Cam’Ron Wilson and Cash Williams scored 29 and 24 points, and 6-foot-5 center Kobe Foster – with a decided height advantage over the smallish Patriots – delivered 15 points and 16 rebounds as Central earned a repeat trip to Selland Arena.
It is there Saturday at 8 p.m. that the 19-6 and top-seeded Grizzlies will oppose No. 3 Bakersfield (21-10), which rallied for a 78-64 victory over Bullard.
And it will mark the first Kern County D-I boys presence in the 13-year history of the finals in downtown Fresno.
Central won its first top-division boys basketball title a year ago with a 77-64 conquest of Clovis North.
Wilson made 5 of 8 3-pointers and scored 25 points in that one.
He made six triples against Liberty, including four in the fourth quarter.
This came 11 weeks after the Grizzlies lost 79-77 to Bakersfield in the Clovis West Nike Shootout in a game Wilson didn’t play because of an elbow injury.
I look forward to playing Bakersfield again simply because we lost to them. And now now we’re at full strength, so it will be interesting to see the results.
Coach Greg Streets, whose Central team lost 79-77 to the Drillers in December without injured star Cam’Ron Wilson.
“I look forward to playing Bakersfield again simply because we lost to them,” said Central second-year coach Greg Streets. “And now we’re at full strength, so it will be interesting to see the results.”
Fourth-seeded Liberty (23-9), behind guards Anieus Medrano (22 points) and Isaiah Hill (21), came roaring back from a 26-8 first-quarter deficit to actually lead the Grizzlies, 41-39, in the first minute of the third quarter.
But Central’s firepower proved to be overwhelming.
“Their two main guys really gave us problems,” Patriots coach Jeff Hicks said of Wilson and Williams. “Cam’Ron was shooting from deep and Cash was getting into the key. They’re good.”
Sanger advances another
Sanger’s second-seeded boys joined their girls for The Selland Show by defeating West Bakersfield 62-57 in the D-III semis.
The Apaches boys will play top-seeded Selma Saturday at 4 p.m. for the title. Selma advanced with an 81-62 rout of No. 5 Chavez.
That boys game will follow the D-III girls 2 p.m. final matching No. 5 Sanger and No. 2 Madera.
The boys’ semis stunner had Caruthers punch a Selland ticket as an 11 seed after winning 55-51 at No. 2 Fresno Christian. The Blue Raiders will play Friday at 4 p.m. against No. 1 California City, which escaped, 85-72, at home in overtime to No. 4 Dos Palos, which had to travel 240 miles to the Antelope Valley-based school.
Saturday’s 8 p.m. D-II boys final will match No. 1 Ridgeview, which beat No. 4 Redwood 85-67, and No. 2 Memorial, which beat No. 3 Independence 82-60.
Immanuel’s top-seeded boys, seeking a fourth-straight section title, will play No. 2 Madera South in Saturday’s D-IV championship at noon. The Eagles raced by No. 4 Bishop 109-53 while the No. 2 Stallions beat No. 3 Kerman 80-70.